Bylined Articles

These bylined articles have been written by Robert Half Technology.

Employee Turnover: 3 Strategies to Keep Cool When a Top Tech Employee Says ‘I Quit’

 

In today’s highly competitive technology market, one thing is certain: no person is guaranteed to stay indefinitely, even those you’ve grown to depend on. Here’s how to keep positive – and respond strategically – when faced with untimely employee turnover.

You’re usually cool, calm and collected, no matter if systems fail or deadlines creep up. But even when provided with plenty of notice, the resignation of a core technical team member can leave you feeling a different kind of frantic, not to mention rattle your team’s confidence.

You may ask yourself: Who will cover this employee’s work? Will this derail any high-profile projects? Which clients will be affected? And finally: Can I even replace the knowledge and technical skill set this employee had?

Despite initial thoughts, the answer is always yes. No matter how integral an employee is to a technology team, it’s a fact of business that the show must go on. So rather than focusing on the negative – say, losing a key ASP .NET developer – think strategically about how to proceed. Consider the following three ways to put a positive spin on the stress that surrounds tech employee turnover:

1. Initial thought: I need to fill Andy’s web developer spot, like, yesterday.

Positive spin: Andy worked pretty closely with Sarah. We should consider promoting from within.

Ask yourself this question: Do we need to look for an outside candidate? Before you begin a daunting candidate search that takes valuable time and resources, evaluate your existing personnel. The best person for the job could be right in front of your nose. If ever there were a staff member who could assume the position with little or no training, it’s the person who worked most closely and is deeply familiar with Andy’s position.

Not only will this lower opportunity cost, but promoting from within also encourages employee retention and may even stave off internal distress that can come up during times of change.

2. Initial thought: Jim was a super star; from coding to project management, he took on more duties than the average employee. How will I fill his shoes?

Positive spin: If Jim was acting as more than one employee, maybe his duties can be spread manageably across more than one employee.

Ask yourself this question: Are there others who are willing and excited to take on greater responsibilities? If your departing all-star seemed to have been doing the work of two or more people, perhaps his responsibilities could be spread across other strong performers on the team. Rather than “dumping” additional work on your busy tech team or giving projects to personnel who haven’t yet mastered the skills to handle them (just because Leah knows Java doesn’t mean she can jump seamlessly to a C++ project), figure out who’s ready and looking for greater responsibility. Also consider how new responsibilities might enhance an employee’s career path as well as empower him or her to excel.

3. Initial thought: If we don’t fill Rebecca’s position ASAP, we’re doomed – she was managing our most important IT project.

Positive spin: To avoid a hasty hire, we should consider a contract employee until we can find a candidate with the ideal skill set.

Ask yourself this question: Could contract support tide you over? If you decide to look outside your team or company to fill the position, consider whether a contract worker could keep projects on track while you search for a qualified replacement. It could give you the extra time you need to avoid making a costly bad hire.

Employee turnover: Be realistic, be prepared

Losing a valued member of your applications development, desktop support, network administration or other technical team can be overwhelming. Once the dust settles, keep in mind that even the most productive and skilled employees (yes, even the ones who can troubleshoot in their sleep) are replaceable, and it’s rare that an exceptionally skilled apps developer or desktop support pro would stick around indefinitely.

One way to ease the disruption associated with employee turnover is to formalize succession planning. Assess individuals’ skills and have that information readily available when it comes time to fill in the gaps. It takes time to develop technical talent, so make sure every employee is empowered to take on greater responsibilities and keep their skills sharp. If no one is prepped and ready to assume critical roles when key players move on, act now to identify and develop potential candidates.

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